Trick or trait? The combined effects of employee impression management modesty and trait modesty on supervisor evaluations

  • Diekmann C
  • Blickle G
  • Hafner K
 et al. 
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Prior research on the benefits of modest self-presentation in organizational contexts has shown positive effects on several career-related outcomes, including employees' reputation, organizational support, and mentoring. However, little is known about the nature, mechanisms, and boundary conditions of this promising impression management tactic. Our study addresses this research gap by integrating two theoretical conceptions of modesty, i.e., impression management modesty (IM modesty) and trait modesty. We developed and tested an overarching theoretical model that postulates positive interactive effects of employees' IM modesty and trait modesty on supervisor ratings of employees' likeability, competence, and job performance. Data on 233 employee-supervisor dyads were analyzed using hierarchical regression and conditional process analyses. As expected, the effects of IM modesty were systematically moderated by employees' trait modesty: For employees with high trait modesty, IM modesty demonstrated significant positive effects on supervisor ratings of employee likeability and competence, which in turn were associated with higher job performance ratings. For employees with low trait modesty, however, using IM modesty was neither beneficial nor detrimental to supervisor evaluations. Implications for theory, practice, and avenues for future research are discussed.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Competence
  • Impression management
  • Job performance
  • Likeability
  • Modesty
  • Reputation

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